Tag Archives: Councilman Costa Constantinides

Annual ‘Celebrate Astoria Day’ to kick off Sept. 28, 2015


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Astoria now has its own day to shine.

The neighborhood will now be celebrated during an annual festival set to kick off on Sept. 28, 2015, known as “Celebrate Astoria Day.”

The official day was recognized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Councilman Costa Constantinides through a proclamation given to the local organization and blog site Give Me Astoria.

“The aim of Give Me Astoria has always been to bring the community together, and ‘Celebrate Astoria Day’ will serve to recognize not only this amazing neighborhood, but its phenomenal residents as well,” said Sanja Mylonas, founder and CEO of Give Me Astoria.

According to organizers, “Celebrate Astoria Day” is expected to “promote a sense of community” and offer residents activities and performances by local performers. The festival will also serve to help local businesses grow their relationships with the community.

For more information, visit www.givemeastoria.com.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

The Doe Fund to help clean more Astoria streets


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

More Astoria streets are getting cleaner thanks to the “men in blue.”

After hearing positive feedback from residents and business owners, The Doe Fund, which was initially brought to the western Queens neighborhood in April, will now expand street sweeping services to Steinway Street, Newtown Road, Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue, Councilman Costa Constantinides announced Thursday.

“This will be a boon to residents and small business owners across Astoria. The ‘men in blue’ will continue to provide reinforcements and additional resources to help keep Astoria clean,” said Constantinides, who has allocated over $130,000 for street sweeping by The Doe Fund as part of the new city-wide initiative Clean NYC.

The nonprofit organization, which employs recently homeless or formerly incarcerated people as part of its Ready, Willing, and Able transitional work program, was keeping the sidewalks clean and clearing the corner trash cans along 30th Avenue, Broadway and 31st Street.

“This program will increase the quality of life in Astoria, that’s the most important. Clean the street, find new jobs and community come together to be concerned about the quality of life,” said Ahmed Jamil, president of the Muslim American Society. “At the end of the day [before] you [saw] the garbage on the streets and you now don’t see it anymore.”

Although the Department of Sanitation collects trash from corner trash cans once per day in Astoria, the expansion of The Doe Fund helps alleviate the trash and littered streets which have previously caused problems in the neighborhood, such as sidewalk accessibility and shopping issues, according to Constantinides.

“The Doe Fund, combined with community street and graffiti clean-ups, will continue to make a difference in our district and across the city,” said Constantinides, who has also allocated $30,000 in funding for graffiti removal services. “Clean streets and buildings make our neighborhood more enjoyable and inviting—a win for everyone.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Borough president rejects Astoria Cove proposal


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy STUDIO V Architecture


And that’s strike two for the massive Astoria Cove proposal.

Following a Community Board 1 ruling against it, Borough President Melinda Katz rejected the 1.76 million-square-foot mixed-use waterfront development on Thursday after a public hearing earlier in the month.

In her decision, Katz echoed the community’s concerns of traffic congestion that the project would cause and the impact of the already “insufficient” public transit. She urged developer Alma Realty to increase affordable housing units to 35 percent from the proposed 20 percent of the 1,723 dwellings. Katz also suggested that a proposed 456-seat elementary school, which is expected to be built in the final phase of the project, be constructed earlier.

“The proposed redevelopment of the Astoria Cove site would revitalize an otherwise underutilized Queens waterfront,” Katz said in the recommendation. “However, in bringing hundreds of new residents into Astoria, the needs and concerns of the existing residents…. And the overall well being of the borough and New York City must also be addressed. At this time there are still outstanding issues with this project.”

THE COURIER/File photo

Astoria Cove is expected to consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories, and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building.

The project, which is expected to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space.

Community Board 1 voted against the proposal in June, and also suggested that the developer make some changes to their plan.

The board’s conditions included some of Katz’s recommendations, and also asked for an increase in parking spaces, commercial space set aside for recreational and medical facilities, and priority of construction and permanent jobs for local residents and youth.

The next step for the Astoria Cove proposal is a revision and vote by the City Planning Commission on Wednesday and then a vote by the City Council.

Councilman Costa Constantinides shares the concerns of the Borough President and the board, and said he may not back the project.

“Both Community Board 1 and Borough President Katz have voted against the Astoria Cove development with recommendations,” he said. “If the development is not integrated into our neighborhood in a way that benefits the community, I will be unable to support it.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

MTA to begin weekend bus trial expanding service along Vernon Boulevard


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

DSC_11092

Starting this weekend, residents and visitors will have better access to the western Queens waterfront.

The Q103 bus line, which connects Astoria and Long Island City via Vernon Boulevard, will offer service to riders on weekends, starting Sunday and operate later on weekday evenings, according to the MTA.

In April, the transit agency said the schedule update would serve as a trial program, and it would receive comments from the community at an MTA public hearing to be scheduled at a later date. After the public hearing, a decision will be made to keep the service or not. It has not been determined how long the trial program will run.

“This announcement is a milestone for all of us who fought for years to get proper bus service for the growing communities of Astoria and Long Island City,” said state Sen. Michael Gianaris, who has been calling for the extra service on the bus line since 2011. “I am thrilled the MTA is finally realizing western Queens’ need for increased mass transit is real and pressing.”

Gianaris is also urging the MTA to make the Q103 expansion changes permanent.

The weekend service will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and, in addition, the Q103 will also extend its weekday service hours until 9 p.m., instead of 7:30 p.m. The travel path and bus stops will not be affected, the MTA previously said.

“These enhancements were all a result of listening to our customers and keeping close watch on changing ridership trends,” said MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco.

Local leaders and business owners see the need to expand the Q103’s service as crucial to the growing neighborhoods.

“It is a positive step in improving transportation options in our neighborhood,” Councilman Costa Constantinides said. “The Vernon Boulevard corridor has been one of the more under-served transit thoroughfares in western Queens. Increasing bus service would be a vital resource to commuters traveling to Manhattan and to residents connecting from Astoria to Long Island City.”

According to officials, the Q103 ridership has been increasing in the past years, rising from 558 riders per day in 2011 to about 790 in 2014.

The MTA has also announced that this Sunday the Q19 will extend its western last stop from Astoria Boulevard and 21st Street to the East River waterfront at 27th Avenue and 2nd Street.

The Q102 will then also remain on 30th Avenue between Crescent Street and 8th Street, according to the MTA, with the stops on Crescent Street, Newtown Avenue and Astoria Boulevard to be relocated to 30th Avenue. All bus stops along Astoria Boulevard will instead be served by the Q19.

For more information visit www.mta.info.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Steinway Mansion sold to unknown Astoria buyers


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Gary Vollo

The landmarked Steinway Mansion is officially off the market.

The home that sits on top of a hill at 18-33 41st St. has been sold to two unidentified Astoria-buyers who grew up in the neighborhood, according to City Councilman Costa Constantinides.

Constantinides said he met with the two local men prior to their purchase of the home and they have no plan on changing it to a night club or dining hall but instead want to open it as community space.

“I was really glad they came to speak with the neighborhood first. They really want to work with local officials and the community to make sure it stays part of neighborhood,” Constantinides said. “They really want to work with the neighborhood. They want it to be something that celebrates the great history of Astoria.”

The home, which was built in the 1850s, was sold for $2.6 million, according to published reports. It had reportedly been on the market for about two years and in March a private buyer was said to be in contract to purchase the home.

The Astoria mansion was built by Benjamin Pike and was later sold to the Steinway family as a summer home around 1870, with the Steinway & Sons piano factory built decades later only a few blocks away. In the 1920s, the home was sold to the Halberian family and has stayed in the family ever since. It was later selected as a New York City Landmark in 1967.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES